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U.S. sends Ukraine seized Iranian-made weapons

The Pentagon provided thousands of seized Iranian-made weapons to Ukraine before they could reach Houthi militants in Yemen, U.S. officials said Tuesday. It’s the Biden administration’s latest infusion of emergency military support for kyiv, as a multibillion-dollar aid package remains stalled in the Republican-led House.

The weapons include 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as half a million rounds of ammunition. They were seized from four “stateless vessels” between 2021 and 2023 and made available for transfer to Ukraine as part of a Justice Department civil forfeiture program targeting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran. according to the US Central Commandwhich oversees military operations in the Middle East.

Officials said Iran intended to supply the weapons to the Houthis, who have launched a months-long attack on commercial and military ships transiting off the Arabian Peninsula. Central Command said the cache was enough to provide rifles for an entire Ukrainian brigade, which varies in size but typically includes a few thousand troops.

The inventory list does not include artillery ammunition or air defense weapons, which are among Ukraine’s most urgent needs on the battlefield. Ukrainian military commanders were forced to ration both, leaving troops and civilians vulnerable to Russian attacks.

The new offer of Iranian products The weapons come as Russian forces launch an aggressive offensive, backed by devastating glide bombs, to break through Ukrainian lines and conquer more ground in the country’s east. President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine’s army, under siege and facing dwindling ammunition stocks, was “trying to find a way not to retreat.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has refused to vote on a Senate-approved national security package that also includes aid to U.S. ally Israel and other priorities national security, should present a plan for an additional Ukraine. help later this month. But he did not say when the House might vote on the matter.

The new batch of weapons supplied to Ukraine was inspected and found to be safe and in working order, a U.S. defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the transfer process. Ukrainian troops have in the past expressed frustration with the condition of some weapons supplied by the United States and the West, which often come from older warehouse stocks.

U.S. officials have warned with growing urgency that Ukraine faces a series of grim scenarios if additional U.S. military aid does not materialize. Washington has been by far Ukraine’s largest arms supplier since Russia launched its full-scale invasion more than two years ago.

“They’re not asking someone to fight the fight for them,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “They are asking for the means to sustain their efforts.”

Austin predicted that soon Ukraine’s military would “atrophy” without more U.S. weapons.

The alarming picture from the battlefield has prompted officials in Washington and across Europe to reconsider the risks to their own security they are willing to take to continue helping Ukraine.

Last month, for example, the Pentagon announced it would send $300 million in additional U.S. weapons to kyiv after realizing “unanticipated savings” in recent arms deals. This package was among the last sent to Ukraine.

Abigail Hauslohner, Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan contributed to this report.

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Gn world

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